Today, I’m sharing some of the Top Ten lists you have sent me this week. I love reading these lists because they introduce me to new books and remind of ones I love . . . yet, I curse them also because, seriously, how is one person supposed to read all these great things. Still, they are cool!
First up, Tom Wing’s list of historical fiction.
Being a history professor I am a little tough on historical fiction. I admit that an author has to do their homework and get the little details to maintain credibility with me. That said, I would like to contribute the history professor’s Top 10 list of historical fiction in my opinion, that got it right. The list also is very telling of my historical interests, no apologies will be provided.
- 10. Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett This book and the sequel World Without End had me going looking up cathedral design, monastery life, and other aspects of the middle ages. I greatly enjoyed them both.
- 9. Cranford by Elizabeth Gaskell Much like Jane Austen, Gaskell gives us insight in the to pre and early I Industrial Age England, her characters are so engrossing, but it is the context of the times that hooked me.
- 8. Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens Actually anything by Dickens would fit the bill. I also love A Christmas Carol and Great Expectations. Dickens tells the story within the story of the time. Few do it better.
- 7. Gone to Texas by Forrest Carter This book inspired on of Clint Eastwood’s most memorable characters, the Outlaw Josey Wales. While Eastwood did well, the book is so much better.
- 6. Sharpe’s Rifles (Sharpe’s Company, Sharpe’s Battle) by Bernard Cornwell — Set during the Napoleonic War, Sharpe rises from the ranks to become a trusted and decorated officer while at the same time being despised by regular soldiers and the officer corps alike. Cornwell paid great attention to detail in all his books.
- 5. Woe to Live On by Daniel Woodrell — Better than any written history, this book, although fiction captures the essence of the Civil War on the Western Border (Missouri, Kansas, Indian Territory and Arkansas) The characters are real and much of the book could be remembrances of a veteran.
- 4. Master and Commander (Aubrey-Maturin Series) by Patrick O’Brian — One of the richest series of historical fiction available. O’Brian knew the ships, the Royal Navy, music, wine, food, geography…in fact there are books written about different aspects of the series. Every book is a rewarding adventure in history.
- 3. De Bello Lemures, Or The Roman War Against The Zombies Of Armorica by Thomas Brookside — Don’t let the word Zombies discourage you, this is an excellent work. Brookside is a genius for devising a fictional lost and incomplete Latin account of a zombie attack in Roman held Britain. Footnoted and with narrative like an academic thesis, the book is rich in detail and leaves you wanting more at the end.
- 2. Killer Angels by Michael Shaara — Required reading in many Civil War history courses, Killer Angels continues to be the first source for any understanding of the Battle of Gettysburg. Shara covered all the major players and gives insight from some of the minor ones. Sweeping and complete, the book takes you to the battle and places you on the front line.
- 1. Eagle in the Snow by Wallace Breem — My all-time favorite work of historical fiction, Breem captures the decline and fall of the Roman Empire through the eyes of a devoted general and his men. Tasked with stopping the invading barbarians across the Rhine, Maximus and his troops fight a final battle of honor, courage and desparation.
- Honorable mentions:
The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco — Like World without end above, Eco paints a vivid picture of monastery life and the horrors of the inquisition.
- Gates of Fire by Stephen Pressfield — A retelling of the Battle of Thermopylae. Pressfield reminds us why we should respect and remember the Spartans and other Greeks.
Then, we have Nita Jaye’s list of novels.
- Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes
- Music and Silence by Rose Tremaine
- To Know a Woman by Amos Oz
- Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant by Ann Tyler
- This Is How You Lose Her by Junot Diaz
- The Moon and Sixpence by Somerset Maugham
- The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
- Confessions of a Young Man by George Moore
- Luminaries by Eleanor Catton
- Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
And finally, from M.A. Robinson, these two lists of books of language lovers.
Keep those lists coming, folks. Share a link or post your list in the comments below. I’ll be sharing your recommendations again next week for a Top Ten list in any category of your choosing. Next Friday, I’ll choose one random winner to receive a $20 gift card to the bookstore of your choice. So spread the word and get those lists together.